Legislative Branch

Guide to Senate Records: Chapter 12 Mines and Mining

Table of Contents

Chapter 12. Records of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs and Predecessor Committees, 1816-1968

Records of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs and Predecessor Committees, 1816-1988 from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States

Committee records discussed in this chapter:
Records of the Committee on Mines and Mining, 1865-1946

12.68 The Committee on Mines and Mining was established on December 6, 1865, by the Senate resolution establishing the standing committees of the Senate for the 39th Congress. The new committee was responsible for most legislation concerning the regulation of mines and mining operations, although the Committee on Public Lands retained jurisdiction over mineral rights on public lands. The committee was terminated by the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 and its legislative responsibilities were transferred to the Committee on Public Lands and then to the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs.

12.69 Records of the committee (2 ft.) are fragmentary. The committee papers, 1873-1946 (1 ft.), contain a number of informative legislative case files for the 43d Congress (1873-75), in particular S. 16 relating to the Sutro Tunnel in the Comstock Lode (43A-E11). For other 19th-century Congresses, however, there are few files as instructive. There are no papers at all for the periods 1875-1887 and 1901-1917. After 1901, legislative case files for bills referred to the committee are in the series of papers relating to specific bills and resolutions. From 1922 through 1941, the committee received reports on implementation of the War Minerals Relief Act. In general, however, there is relatively little correspondence for the period 1933-46, and the papers contain only a few Presidential messages, executive communications, and reports on subjects such as the interstate compact to conserve oil and gas and the Federal Anthracite Commission (1942).

12.70 Although few in number, petitions and memorials referred to the committee, 1866-1944 (1 ft.), concern issues relating to general mining law, economics and safety, and specific mining claims. Miners were particularly interested in establishing and protecting title to their claims, which were threatened by bills such as S. 16, 43d Cong., which concerned claims on the Comstock Lode. A large petition submitted in 1874 by residents of the towns of Virginia City and Gold Hill, NV, who opposed the bill, not only lists the names but also the occupations of the signers (43A-H13). Beginning in 1908, a growing articulation of miners' concern for their health, safety, and economic well-being is expressed in their petitions for a law to provide compensation for mine injuries (60A-J88); for investigations of unsafe working conditions in mines operated by the Treadwell Mining Company in Alaska (60A-J89) and the anthracite coal industry, which had been struck in 1925 (69A-J28); and for the establishment of a bureau of mines, 1910-11 (61A-J65).

12.71 The records also include minutes, 1933-38 (1 vol., 1 in.), which document committee meetings during the 73d-75th Congresses. They are, however, very brief and contain little information beyond listing the items discussed.

Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to the Records of the United States Senate at the National Archives, 1789-1989: Bicentennial Edition (Doct. No. 100-42). By Robert W. Coren, Mary Rephlo, David Kepley, and Charles South. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1989.